By the end of the work day on Thursday, Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar, inspiring many, placed her bid for a seat in Congress.
This announcement comes as powerful step forward for all minorities; particularly Muslims, immigrants, and women of color. Ilhan Omar has been a shining beacon of hope for minorities across the spectrum who wish to pursue political careers, or even just be more visible in the political arena.
We all felt a wave of pride following Ilhan’s win for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, first making headlines as the first Somali woman to earn a political seat. We featured her earlier this year as our #MGTop 8 Quadruple Threat, as a trailblazer for advocacy and change, all the way from Somalia. She ran for her love and devotion to education and civil liberties, a few of many issues that resonated deeply with her constituents. Furthermore, her courage to run for public office as a hijab-wearing woman embodies the hopes of many Muslim girls who aspire to share their voices loudly, and make an impact on a larger scale.
It is this unparalleled drive and success (#mashallah!) that has Ilhan Omar’s sights set even higher as she looks to expand her political platform to congress.
Ilhan’s political career is embedded within the larger context of political representation in the United States. As a country that founded itself on the supposed freedom and liberty of all people, it is astonishing to believe that we haven’t had a visibly Muslim woman run for congress until the 21st century. The diversity of the United States makes it a rather unique nation; shouldn’t our politicians reflect that same level of uniqueness?
The importance of this effort to diversify our government is based on the need to create policies that are rooted in citizens’ lived experiences; that’s what democracy is all about, right? However, this dream of democracy– having political leadership mirror the demographic makeup of U.S citizens– requires all of our combined efforts! If we want to see Ilhan Omar fill up a seat in Congress, a seat that might otherwise be taken by a loud, regressive, white man, we have to step up.
So how can we bring this dream of a well-represented, diverse democracy into reality? Here are three steps to follow this election season.
Step One: Follow the elections
Each state, each county, and each town always has an election happening at any given time. Spend some time doing research into your own area and see where your voice matters most, and about which issue you feel most passionate about. Find out who your elected representatives are (and when they can be replaced)!
Is your city on the brink between being blue or red? Adding your vote can make all the difference! Is there an important referendum that no one knows about? Spread the word! Tell your family! Post about it on social media!
Step Two: Get Involved
Given that there always elections going on, there is always more need for volunteers. Do not be afraid to take a step towards your local county office and ask how you could advance a candidate’s campaign. Shoot an email over to your favorite representative, or your mayor, or even your senator with a resume and brief cover letter!
(FYI, this also a wonderful addition to your resume!)
Step Three: Vote!
As a citizen of this country you are granted the right to vote. It’s a right that people of color have fought generations to secure, and a right that many hard-working immigrants and tax-payers are denied. Don’t take the responsibility of voting lightly.
Voting is not emphasized enough. As a citizen of this country you are granted the right to vote. It’s a right that people of color have fought generations to secure, and a right that many hard-working immigrants and tax-payers are denied. Don’t take the responsibility of voting lightly.
Registering to vote is easier than ever. It takes 30 seconds to check if you’re registered, and a couple more minutes to register yourself and start exercising your right to vote! There’s no excuse!
If we want to see more representation in our government, we must be willing to take action in any way, shape or form. It’s about time this nation’s leaders started representing the majority of their constituents, the most oppressed minorities, and the most disenfranchised groups. Right?